I have always believed that it makes business sense to “fire” customers you don’t want. And customers you don’t want are those who make you say, “Life is too short. I don’t need this.” So, yes, I’m not a believer in the old adage about the customer always being right.

But that said, there will always be customer complaints and they may be from customers you want to keep. As I once heard a salesperson say, “I want customers to have complaints because then I can impress them with how quickly I can resolve issues.” Now, there’s some sense to this because apparently most customers who complain about a business don’t want to end their relationship with it; they just want something to change.* Customers whose complaints are resolved quickly and satisfactorily often become very loyal.

There are costs associated with resolving complaints but recruiting new customers usually costs more. If making changes following a complaint keeps those customers who are also unhappy but leave without complaining, the complaining customer may ultimately save your shop money.

It’s good to know that the complaining customer you want to keep is likely to want to stay as well. So it’s up to you to make the changes necessitated by the complaints—within reason, of course.


  • 101 Things I Learned in Business School by Michael W. Preis and Matthew Frederick.